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William Hazlitt

The slaves of power mind the cause they have to serve, because their own interest is concerned; but the friends of liberty always sacrifice their cause, which is only the cause of humanity, to their own spleen, vanity, and self-opinion.
William Hazlitt humanity
Those who aim at faultless regularity will only produce mediocrity, and no one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves.
William Hazlitt perfection
We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.
William Hazlitt art
Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone — but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.
William Hazlitt friendship
Look up, laugh loud, talk big, keep the colour in your cheek and the fire in your eye, adorn your person, maintain your health, your beauty, and your animal spirits, and you will pass for a fine man.
William Hazlitt beauty
You know more of a road by having travelled it then by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.
William Hazlitt world
The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much.
William Hazlitt life
A scholar is like a book written in a dead language — it is not every one that can read in it.
William Hazlitt language
I hate to be near the sea, and to hear it roaring and raging like a wild beast in its den. It puts me in mind of the everlasting efforts of the human mind, struggling to be free, and ending just where it began.
William Hazlitt mind
Mankind are an incorrigible race. Give them but bugbears and idols — it is all that they ask; the distinctions of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood, of good and evil, are worse than indifferent to them.
William Hazlitt truth
Man is a make-believe animal — he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.
William Hazlitt art
If a person has no delicacy, he has you in his power, for you necessarily feel some towards him; and since he will take no denial, you must comply with his peremptory demands, or send for a constable, which out of respect for his character you will not do.
William Hazlitt war
Belief is with them mechanical, voluntary: they believe what they are paid for — they swear to that which turns to account. Do you suppose, that after years spent in this manner, they have any feeling left answering to the difference between truth and falsehood?
William Hazlitt truth
The least pain in our little finger gives us more concern and uneasiness, than the destruction of millions of our fellow-beings.
William Hazlitt pain
The origin of all science is in the desire to know causes; and the origin of all false science and imposture is in the desire to accept false causes rather than none; or, which is the same thing, in the unwillingness to acknowledge our own ignorance.
William Hazlitt knowledge
When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.
William Hazlitt
Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.
William Hazlitt soul
Well, I've had a happy life.
William Hazlitt life
General principles are not the less true or important because, from their nature they elude immediate observation; they are like the air, which is not the less necessary because we neither see nor feel it, or like that secret influence which binds the world together and holds the planets in their orbits.
William Hazlitt nature
The perfect joys of heaven do not satisfy the cravings of nature.
William Hazlitt nature
They are the only honest hypocrites. Their life is a voluntary dream; a studied madness.
William Hazlitt life
There is, however, no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice.
William Hazlitt prejudice
Grace has been defined the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.
William Hazlitt war
Grace in women has more effect than beauty.
William Hazlitt women
Grace is the absence of every thing that indicates pain or difficulty, or hesitation or incongruity.
William Hazlitt pain
All that is worth remembering in life, is the poetry of it.
William Hazlitt life
Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry, cannot have much respect for himself, or for anything else.
William Hazlitt poetry
The poetical impression of any object is that uneasy, exquisite sense of beauty or power that cannot be contained within itself; that is impatient of all limit; that (as flame bends to flame) strives to link itself to some other image of kindred beauty or grandeur; to enshrine itself, as it were, in the highest forms of fancy, and to relieve the aching sense of pleasure by expressing it in the boldest manner, and by the most striking examples of the same quality in other instances.
William Hazlitt beauty
The characteristic ofis intensity; of , remoteness; of Milton, elevation; of Shakespeare, every thing.
William Hazlitt character
The temple of fame stands upon the grave: the flame that burns upon its altars is kindled from the ashes of dead men.
William Hazlitt men
talked on for ever; and you wished him to talk on for ever.
William Hazlitt you
The love of fame, as it enters at times into his mind, is only another name for the love of excellence; or it is the ambition to attain the highest excellence, sanctioned by the highest authority — that of time.
William Hazlitt love
The Tory is one who is governed by sense and habit alone. He considers not what is possible, but what is real; he gives might the preference over right. He cries long life to the conqueror, and is ever strong upon the stronger side — the side of corruption and prerogative.
William Hazlitt life
Those who make their dress a principal part of themselves, will, in general, become of no more value than their dress.
William Hazlitt art
It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.
William Hazlitt
We are all of us more or less the slaves of opinion.
William Hazlitt opinion
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
William Hazlitt love
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.
William Hazlitt wit
Anyone must be mainly ignorant or thoughtless, who is surprised at everything he sees; or wonderfully conceited who expects everything to conform to his standard of propriety.
William Hazlitt thought
Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food.
William Hazlitt food
Some one is generally sure to be the sufferer by a joke.
William Hazlitt
Wit is, in fact, the eloquence of indifference.
William Hazlitt fact
Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy.
William Hazlitt light
First impressions are often the truest, as we find (not unfrequently) to our cost when we have been wheedled out of them by plausible professions or actions. A man's look is the work of years, it is stamped on his countenance by the events of his whole life, nay, more, by the hand of nature, and it is not to be got rid of easily.
William Hazlitt life
Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.
William Hazlitt thoughts
Modesty is the lowest of the virtues, and is a real confession of the deficiency it indicates. He who undervalues himself is justly undervalued by others.
William Hazlitt self
One has no notion of him as making use of a fine pen, but a great mutton-fist; his style stuns readers...He is too much for any single newspaper antagonist; "lays waste" a city orator or Member of Parliament, and bears hard upon the government itself. He is kind of fourth estate in the politics of the country.
William Hazlitt politics
He changes his opinions as he does his friends, and much on the same account. He has no comfort in fixed principles; as soon as anything is settled in his own mind, he quarrels with it. He has no satisfaction but the chase after truth, runs a question down, worries and kills it, then quits it like a vermin, and starts some new game, to lead him a new dance, and give him a fresh breathing through bog and brake, with the rabble yelping at his heels and the leaders perpetually at fault.
William Hazlitt truth
Scholars, like princes, may learn something by being incognito. Yet we see those who cannot go into a bookseller's shop, or bear to be five minutes in a stage-coach, without letting you know who they are. They carry their reputation about with them as the snail does its shell, and sit under its canopy, like the lady in the lobster. I cannot understand this at all. What is the use of a man's always revolving round his own little circle? He must, one should think, be tired of it himself, as well as tire other people.
William Hazlitt books
Any one who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.
William Hazlitt education
Learning is, in too many cases, but a foil to common sense; a substitute for true knowledge.
William Hazlitt knowledge
The thing is plain. All that men really understand is confined to a very small compass; to their daily affairs and experience; to what they have an opportunity to know and motives to study or practise. The rest is affectation and imposture.
William Hazlitt men
The most sensible people to be met with in society are men of business and of the world, who argue from what they see and know, instead of spinning cobweb distinctions of what things ought to be.
William Hazlitt people
It is better to be able neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else.
William Hazlitt read
If we wish to know the force of human genius, we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning, we may study his commentators.
William Hazlitt men
Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars. So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn and laughter. There is no opportunity in such cases for self-delusion, no idling time away, no being off your guard (or you must take the consequences) — neither is there any room for humour or caprice or prejudice.
William Hazlitt humour
No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.
William Hazlitt life
What I mean by living to one's-self is living in the world, as in it, not of it: it is as if no one know there was such a person, and you wished no one to know it: it is to be a silent spectator of the mighty scene of things, not an object of attention or curiosity in it; to take a thoughtful, anxious interest in what is passing in the world, but not to feel the slightest inclination to make or meddle with it.
William Hazlitt world
Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!
William Hazlitt love
There is not a more mean, stupid, dastardly, pitiful, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful animal than the Public. It is the greatest of cowards, for it is afraid of itself.
William Hazlitt war
When a man is dead, they put money in his coffin, erect monuments to his memory, and celebrate the anniversary of his birthday in set speeches. Would they take any notice of him if he were living? No!
William Hazlitt money
Thought depends on the habitual exercise of the speculative faculties; action, on the determination of the will. The one assigns reasons for things, the other puts causes into act. ... Such is the effeminacy of the speculative and philosophical temperament, compared with the promptness and vigour of the practical! ... Reasoners in general are undecided, wavering, and sceptical, or yield at last to the weakest motive as most congenial to their feeble habit of soul.
William Hazlitt soul
It [will-making] is the latest opportunity we have of exercising the natural perversity of the disposition ... This last act of our lives seldom belies the former tenor of them for stupidity, caprice, and unmeaning spite. All that we seem to think of is to manage matters so (in settling accounts with those who are so unmannerly as to survive us) as to do as little good, and to plague and disappoint as many people, as possible.
William Hazlitt people
His hypothesis goes to this — to make the common run of his readers fancy they can do all that can be done by genius, and to make the man of genius believe he can only do what is to be done by mechanical rules and systematic industry. This is not a very feasible scheme; nor is Sir Joshua sufficiently clear and explicit in his reasoning in support of it.
William Hazlitt man
It has been the resolution of mankind in all ages of the world. No people, no age, ever threw away the fruits of past wisdom, or the enjoyment of present blessings, for visionary schemes of ideal perfection. It is the knowledge of the past, the actual infliction of the present, that has produced all changes, all innovations, and all improvements — not (as is pretended) the chimerical anticipation of possible advantages, but the intolerable pressure of long-established, notorious, aggravated, and growing abuses.
William Hazlitt wisdom
Of the two classes of people, I hardly know which is to be regarded with most distaste, the vulgar aping the genteel, or the genteel constantly sneering at and endeavouring to distinguish themselves from the vulgar. ... True worth does not exult in the faults and deficiencies of others; as true refinement turns away from grossness and deformity, instead of being tempted to indulge in an unmanly triumph over it. ... Real power, real excellence, does not seek for a foil in inferiority; nor fear contamination from coming in contact with that which is coarse and homely.
William Hazlitt fear
Our first of poets was one of our first of men. He was an eminent instance to prove that a poet is not another name for the slave of power and fashion ... who merely aspire to make up the pageant and show of the day. There are persons in common life who ... can so little bear to be left for any length of time out of the grand carnival and masquerade of pride and folly, that they will gain admittance to it at the expense of their characters ... Milton was not one of these. He had lofty contemplative principle, and consciousness of inward power and worth, [not] to be tempted by such idle baits.
William Hazlitt life
One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I like to do it myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone.
William Hazlitt nature
I cannot see the wit of walking and talking at the same time. When I am in the country, I wish to vegetate like the country.
William Hazlitt time
The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases.
William Hazlitt soul
Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to dinner — and then to thinking! ... I begin to feel, think, and be myself again. Instead of an awkward silence, broken by attempts at wit or dull common-places, mine is that undisturbed silence of the heart which alone is perfect eloquence.
William Hazlitt war
I should on this account like well enough to spend the whole of my life in travelling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home.
William Hazlitt life
It is strange that people should take so much interest at one time in what they so soon forget; — the truth is, they feel no interest in it [news of the day] at any time, but it does for something to talk about. Their ideas are served up to them, like their bill of fare, for the day; and the whole creation, history, war, politics, morals, poetry, metaphysics, is to them like a file of antedated newspapers, of no use, not even for reference, except the one which lies on the table! You cannot take any of these persons at a greater disadvantage than before they are provided with their cue for the day. They ask with a face of dreary vacuity, 'Have you anything new?' — and on receiving an answer in the negative, have nothing further to say.
William Hazlitt truth
We cannot by a little verbal sophistry confound the qualities of different minds, nor force opposite excellences into a union by all the intolerance in the world. ... If we have a taste for some one precise style or manner, we may keep it to ourselves and let others have theirs. If we are more catholic in our notions, and want variety of excellence and beauty, it is spread abroad for us to profusion in the variety of books and in the several growth of men's minds, fettered by no capricious or arbitrary rules.
William Hazlitt books
The last sort I shall mention are verbal critics — mere word-catchers, fellows that pick out a word in a sentence and a sentence in a volume, and tell you it is wrong. The title of Ultra-Crepidarian critics has been given to a variety of this species.
William Hazlitt men
Very trifling circumstances do give great and daily annoyance, and as often prove too much for our philosophy and forbearance, as matters of the highest moment. ... The truth is, we pamper little griefs into great ones, and bear great ones as well as we can ... To great evils we submit; we resent little provocations.
William Hazlitt truth
If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.
William Hazlitt you
Whatever is placed beyond the reach of sense and knowledge, whatever is imperfectly discerned, the fancy pieces out at its leisure; and all but the present moment, but the present spot, passion claims for its own, and brooding over it with wings outspread, stamps it with an image of itself. Passion is lord of infinite space, and distant objects please because they border on its confines and are moulded by its touch.
William Hazlitt knowledge
There is (so to speak) "a mighty stream of tendency" to good in the human mind, upon which all objects float and are imperceptibly borne along; and though in the voyage of life we meet with strong rebuffs, with rocks and quicksands, yet there is a "a tide in the affairs of men," a heaving and a restless aspiration of the soul, by means of which, "with sails and tackle torn," the wreck and scattered fragments of our entire being drift into the port and haven of our desires!
William Hazlitt life
We can scarcely hate any one that we know.
William Hazlitt hate
In art, in taste, in life, in speech, you decide from feeling, and not from reason ... If we were obliged to enter into a theoretical deliberation on every occasion before we act, life would be at a stand, and Art would be impracticable.
William Hazlitt life
The objects that we have known in better days are the main props that sustain the weight of our affections, and give us strength to await our future lot. The future is like a dead wall or a thick mist hiding all objects from our view; the past is alive and stirring with objects, bright or solemn, and of unfading interest.
William Hazlitt future
I think it is a rule that men in business should not be taught other things. Any one will be almost sure to make money who has no other idea in his head. A college education, or intense study of abstract truth, will not enable a man to drive a bargain ... The best politicians are not those who are deeply grounded in mathematical or in ethical science. Rules stand in the way of expediency. Many a man has been hindered from pushing his fortune in the world by an early cultivation of his moral sense.
William Hazlitt truth
Corporate bodies are more corrupt and profligate than individuals, because they have more power to do mischief, and are less amenable to disgrace or punishment. They feel neither shame, remorse, gratitude, nor goodwill.
William Hazlitt power
They [universities] may be said to resemble antiquated coquettes of the last age, who think everything ridiculous and intolerable but what was in fashion when they were young, and yet are standing proofs of the progress of taste and the vanity of human pretensions. Our universities are, in a great measure, become cisterns to hold, not conduits to disperse knowledge. ... they can only be of service as a check-weight on the too hasty and rapid career of innovation. ... The unavoidable aim of all corporate bodies of learning is not to grow wise, or teach others wisdom, but to prevent any one else from being or seeming wiser than themselves.
William Hazlitt wisdom
Reputation runs in a vicious circle, and Merit limps behind it, mortified and abashed at its own insignificance. It has been said that the test of fame or popularity is to consider the number of times your name is repeated by others ... So, if you see the same name staring you in the face in great letters at the corner of every street, you involuntarily think the owner of it must be a great man to occupy so large a space in the eye of the town. The appeal is made, in the first instance, to the senses, but it sinks below the surface into the mind. There are various ways of playing one's-self off before the public, and keeping one's name alive. The newspapers, the lamp-posts, the walls of empty houses, the shutters of windows, the blank covers of magazines and reviews, are open to every one.
William Hazlitt time
No young man believes he shall ever die.
William Hazlitt man
There is a feeling of Eternity in youth which makes us amends for everything. To be young is to be as one of the Immortals.
William Hazlitt men
Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end. There was a time when we were not: this gives us no concern — why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be?
William Hazlitt life
The art of will-making chiefly consists in baffling the importunity of expectation.
William Hazlitt art
Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes off the edge of admiration.
William Hazlitt
Envy among other ingredients has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good-fortune.
William Hazlitt love
Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope; and few are reduced so low as that.
William Hazlitt hope
Death is the greatest evil, because it cuts off hope.
William Hazlitt hope
The confession of our failings is a thankless office. It savors less of sincerity or modesty than of ostentation. It seems as if we thought our weaknesses as good as other people's virtues.
William Hazlitt people
There are names written in her immortal scroll, at which FAME blushes!
William Hazlitt fame
The world judge of men by their ability in their profession, and we judge of ourselves by the same test; for it is on that on which our success in life depends.
William Hazlitt life
There are few things in which we deceive ourselves more than in the esteem we profess to entertain for our friends. It is little better than a piece of quackery. The truth is, we think of them as we please — that is as they please or displease us.
William Hazlitt truth
It is well that there is no one without a fault; for he would not have a friend in the world.
William Hazlitt world
Satirists gain the applause of others through fear, not through love.
William Hazlitt love

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